2019 HSBC Hong Kong Sevens: Fifth consecutive title for Fiji 7s

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2019 HSBC Hong Kong Sevens: Fifth consecutive title for Fiji 7s
HONG KONG, HONG KONG - APRIL 07: Fiji Rugby Team celebrates after winning defeating France during the day three of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Cup Final at the Hong Kong Stadium on April 7, 2019 in Hong Kong. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Getty Images)

Fiji has won their fifth consecutive HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title, after overpowering the fiery French outfit 21-7.

It capped off a great return for the Gareth Baber coached men’s team. They were extraordinary, showing pace, precision and a new found confidence that places them second behind the United States, in the 2018/19 series standings.

2019 HSBC Hong Kong Sevens: Fifth consecutive title for Fiji 7s

Three of the starting seven players who played in the final are into their first season of the world series. Ratu Meli Derenalagi, Vilimoni Botitu and Player of the Final Aminiasi Tuimaba were playing in a different level from their peers. Jerry Tuwai led by example and became the first man to ever played in five consecutive victory in Hong Kong.

USA continues to lead the standings with three tournaments to go after finishing third over the ever-improving Samoans. Argentina pipped the Kiwis for fifth spot who succumbed to the French for the first time in the Cup Quarters. Spain who helped the USA into the Cup Quarters settled for 13th place over the Invitational side Portugal 19-14. On the other hand, Scotland walked away with the Challenge Trophy over Japan 26-24.

Ireland and Brazil join the big guns

After the heartache of losing in the last minute of the HSBC World Sevens Series Qualifiers semifinals to a Kameli Soejima try for Japan last year, the lads from the Emerald Isles have finally made it to the top.

Ireland overcame hosts Hong Kong in the final, 28-7, to win the World Rugby men’s Sevens Series qualifiers. The Irish with their speed merchant Jordan Conroy were simply on another level and will be very competitive come next season.

It was the result of three years of hard work; coming so close last year. But in 2019, there was no stopping them. Making heads turn last season as an Invitational side (in London and Paris) in reaching the semis on both occasions. They have what it takes to compete with the big guns, and the future looks bright for them.

In the Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series qualifiers, Brazil overpowered a very fiery Scotland side, 28-19 to get back onto the HSBC World Series. In Hong Kong, the South Americans experience was ‘too hot to handle’ for the Scots.

Although, it must be said that it was the Scottish women who created the biggest upset this weekend. They beat Japan in the semis – a regional favourite, and experienced squad. Scotland can use this experience to come back even stronger next season.

Kenya was outstanding too but not clinical enough in the final stages, losing in the semifinals yet, all the qualifying sides can now plan for 2019/20 Olympic qualifying tournaments – aiming for the biggest two-day event, of them all.

2019 HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Accolades

The coveted DHL Performance Tracker ratings have seen some movement. Canada’s Connor Braid is now leading, with Alamanda Motuga, the impressive Vilimoni Botitu and Ben Pinkleman holding the top spots. These are the hard working players, who are too often overlooked.

But, that is not to say that fans can’t celebrate the ‘brightest stars’ from the HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament. The brightest are shown below, who all contributed to this weekend’s action.

Hong Kong Sevens – the Verdict

Competition is getting tighter not only the norm is being challenged but tides are shifting slowly but steadily. It is good for the game, one wrong move you succumb. Not only the United States is challenging the big boys, we had Spain earlier on, now the French with two consecutive finals and Samoa.

Singapore is the land of surprise in Sevens Rugby. Canada and Kenya defied the odds to win there. Can Samoa or France do the same? It will be another great weekend of Sevens rugby. Tune in to not miss out

However, as Fijians celebrate their fifth consecutive HSBC Hong Kong Sevens title, three questions linger on the minds of Fiji 7s fans;

  • Can we finally win back-to-back tournaments on consecutive weekends?
  • Is Sevuloni Mocenacagi a liability? (With his consistent discipline problem)
  • Might fans see a holiday announced, to celebrate our historic fifth consecutive victory in Hong Kong??

All those questions are to be decided. But just a week separates the five-stages of the Men’s Sevens Series, so there is little time to debate. Back-to-back tournaments, with the next only a few hundred miles away, in Singapore, need good recovery.

Judging by the Singapore Sevens draw, Pool C will be another tough one. Pool A and B will be extra competitive, while the Kiwi’s actually might just be pleased that they could qualify in a better position [this time].

So there will be as much to play for, as the leading sides know there are only three stops left of the World Series. four stops, before Olympic qualification is decided. So concentration is needed, in the humidity of Singapore.

Plenty to look forward to – with hopes that Fiji can ‘for once’ make it back-to-back titles.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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